Creative Cooking

My first grandchild was born on Monday. On Tuesday I went to see him, just after a scheduled appointment with mum’s gerontologist Professor Fonda. I discussed my concerns about mum and dad with him. He said there was little we could do, that I should just focus on my new grandparenting role. Mum and dad have refused help. We just have to wait for something to happen in the house before services can be set in place to assist them. Meanwhile across town at the Women’s Hospital, every precaution was being taken to make sure my grandson was OK to go home. There was a concern that he may have an infection – a slim chance – and he was being monitored by an over cautious medical team. Mum’s doctor said I should write to him if I had any concerns. He said he would try to address them with my parents at their next appointment. He said he normally sees them every six to nine months.

Today I made food to take to Kez now that she is at home with the baby: just as mum did when I went home with Kez. Mum used to make a pasta dish that she called chicken tetrazini. It was chicken, tagliatelle, white sauce, peppers and lots of cheese all baked together. I loved this dish. I would pull a package of it from my freezer and heat it in the oven. It was soft and bland but it came out of the oven with a crunchy cheesy top. It was easy to prepare and eat at a time when my days were so long and exhausting. I made chicken tetrazzini for Kez knowing that she will love it just as I did.

My sister told me that mum put tomato on the pavlova she made thinking it needed something red. My sister wanted me to put this in the letter to mum’s doctor. But mum made a pavlova and thought about what she remembered. She just got it a bit wrong. At the start learning we would praise this creative manoeuvre, “Well done. But it’s not tomatoes that you would put on a pavlova, it’s something else red … a strawberry”.

But mum got it wrong and it’s a sign, not that she is trying very hard and using all her resources to remember and do things the right way, but that she is getting dottier and dottier.

I sat with mum on Thursday and helped her to make a list of who in the family had travel rugs and who had baby rugs. We went over and over the list, each time she forgot who had what and who was who and what was what. The names on the list are underlined, circled and connected with arrows. Sitting with her, figuring this out, felt like sitting with one of my children, when they were children, going over and over and over and over as we do as parents and now as I do as a grown up.

I will give mum some of the chicken tetrazzini I have made and explain to her that this was one of the many meals she made for me when Kez was a baby. Perhaps I will tell her how much I appreciated her and how her gift of food was a great help. She won’t remember but it doesn’t matter. I do.